John Chibuike - People of Akukoworld
“Leaving the shores of Africa at a tender age to pursue my career as a professional footballer wasn’t easy. You see I had to leave my family and friends behind. It is a great sacrifice but I wouldn’t have to if Nigeria and entire African football league is developed as other leagues around the world. Many of us would have stayed back home. I get frustrated at African leaders for not doing the needful to develop and upgrade sports in Africa. I don’t really like to speak on this matters because it seems like no one is listening.
They should remember that a good name is better than ill-gotten wealth. We have all the resources needed to take sports to a whole new level, imagine how many jobs that will be created and how many lives that will be saved? How is it that France won the World Cup with a team made up of mostly Africans? You see we have the talents but lack the support. An African nation is very capable of winning the World Cup with the right support.
I was born and brought up in Aba but my parents are from Imo state of Nigeria. This is my 17th year of playing football professionally. My career started very early at Rangers football club in Enugu, Nigeria. I moved to Sweden in 2009 to play for Häcken and then Rosenborg in Norway 2011. Between 2011 to now, I have played in Turkey, Israel, Kazakhstan and back to Falkenberg, Sweden where I play right now.
It has been a long journey with many experiences both good and bad. In difficult times I try to stay positive by remembering why I am doing this in the first place. I consider myself blessed for the opportunity to work with my passion and to be able to provide for my family. I am a very hard working guy but I know I am here because of grace and favor from God.
The issue of racism in football has always been there but I do choose my fights. I think it’s important to separate pure racism from ignorance. Most people are just ignorant and biased because they don’t know any better. In the end I am a professional athlete, I do what I need to do to excel both in the field and outside the beautiful game of football.
I would have advised young African athletes to not be in so much hurry to travel abroad but the truth is that there are not enough support and opportunities back home. Until the necessary infrastructures and policies are in place I would say this.. If opportunity to travel abroad presents itself, study the contract meticulously and go for it. Go for your dreams but remember it’s not easy, you have to put in 150% at all times. You have to show your worth, there are footballers in Europe but you got signed so show that you are the best.
There are so many challenges in traveling and living abroad. Sometimes you will be confused about who you were and who you are becoming. Always remember your core values, how you were raised. This is how I survive and stay positive”